About the Area
Northern New Jersey provides a welcoming haven for those seeking to escape the nonstop hustle and bustle of New York City, offering a blend of suburban comfort and easy access to the cultural delights and career opportunities of the city. Ample park space and wilderness give residents a chance to indulge in the natural beauty of the region, enjoying blazing fall colors across the hillsides of county parks or bringing out the ice skates to spin and glide on natural ponds and lakes frozen during the winter.
Each of the towns in northern New Jersey offers a different vibe and appeal, from the quasi-urban energy of Montclair and the vibrant, artsy downtown of Westfield to the vintage architecture of South Orange and the kind, neighborly welcome you get in Glen Rock. Shopping is abundant, from the shopping plazas of The Caldwells to the quaint, walkable downtowns of Ridgewood and Maplewood, not to mention the amazing riches of NYC only a short train ride away. Community involvement runs high in many northern New Jersey towns and villages. You can expect to get to know your neighbors through block parties, high school sporting events, community theater, and summertime concerts in local parks, or stop and chat as you walk your dog or push a stroller down one of the many quiet residential streets lined by old-growth trees. With the utmost in convenience close at hand, friendly neighbors, graceful architecture, and striking natural beauty, as well as the buzz of NYC just across the river, northern New Jersey offers a home that’s just right for everyone.
Montclair stands out in northern New Jersey thanks to its artistic vibe and energetic urban scene. It’s ideally located for those who still want easy access to NYC but enjoy living in a spacious, relaxing environment. Beautiful old buildings fill the streets of Montclair, ranging from the Wellmont Theater, nearly 100 years old, to meticulously restored homes that make it a pleasure to walk down the shady streets. The downtown shopping area invites you to stroll through artsy clothing and gift shops as well as antique stores, and the eclectic ethnic restaurants treat you to a culinary journey around the world, featuring Cuban, Turkish, Thai, Greek and Ethiopian food. Montclair residents gather in Brookdale Park to enjoy free concerts and fireworks displays, or just to hang out with their friends and their dogs under the lush canopy of trees.
Living in Glen Ridge is like taking a trip to a bygone era, one in which turn-of-the-century homes with wraparound porches line streets that are lit by hundreds of real, vintage gaslamps. A warm and welcoming community enhances the feeling of living in a small town, even though the train commute to New York’s Penn Station only takes about half an hour, and from some spots in Glen Ridge, you can see NYC. This is a neighborhood where kids ride their bikes to local parks, neighbors knock on your door just to hang out, and everyone shows up to participate in school sports and performances. Almost all of Glen Ridge is residential and the high-end shopping, and variety of restaurants of Montclair sit conveniently just minutes away. Residents prize their quiet, residential privacy and the beauty of this community amplifies the serenity of the Glen Ridge lifestyle.
Westfield has the kind of small town ambiance that attracts multiple generations, with kids who grew up here moving back with their own families once they’ve grown. A strong sense of community binds together the neighbors who meet up on the greens at the Echo Lake Country Club and whose kids ride bikes and skateboards together along the quiet, tree-lined streets. Hundreds of acres of parks fill Westfield, with public tennis courts and Memorial Pool helping to make summertime special each year. Along Elm Street, you can find many enticing restaurants and shops, and the community flocks to open-air jazz performances and to shows at the beautifully preserved Rialto Theatre. The vibrant downtown with its cultural scene is active enough that you might even forget you’re really in a cozy small town.
Residents of Summit just don’t want to leave, and there are plenty of reasons why. This highly social community meets up at high school sporting events and Sunday morning farmers markets, and parents aren’t a bit surprised when their grown children decide to move back into the neighborhood. The delightfully walkable center of town features charming mom-and-pop shops, retro diners, yummy bakeries, and a village green, all of which are conveniently close to the train station that carries people a quick 25 miles east to NYC. Old-growth trees shelter the spacious homes that rest back from the street on large lots, and local theaters draw in the whole neighborhood to enjoy musicals, cabaret, improv, and holiday specials.
The best of a beautiful, peaceful suburban lifestyle combined with the hip feeling of living in an urban enclave like Brooklyn — That’s how residents feel about living in Maplewood. Community involvement runs high here, with many urban transplants opening their arms to welcome newcomers to block parties and neighborhood art walks. Art of all types sits at the center of Maplewood, which is filled with galleries, studios, community art centers, and even a mural by local artists on the passageway to the train station. That train connects the neighborhood to NYC for culture, commuting and shopping, but most residents of Maplewood love to stay in town to take advantage of the amazing ethnic eateries lining the main streets, as well as diners, trattorias and cozy neighborhood bars. Weekend and summertime festivals bring the community to life, with all of Maplewood coming together to enjoy the Maplewoodstock music festival, the Halloween Parade, and the Dickens Village during the holidays. At the east end of Maplewood, the South Mountain Reservation provides 2,000 acres of natural beauty, with hiking trails that carry you to a high point to look down on this incredibly welcoming town.
Urban transplants flock to South Orange because they love living in a welcoming community that makes them feel like they’ve found the place they belong combined with the ease of access to NYC by a fast, 30-minute train ride. Magnificent homes dating back to the late 1800s make strolling the streets of South Orange a delightful pastime, especially in the evenings when the authentic gaslamps start to come on. Whether you head up the eastern slopes of South Mountain for a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline or head to a cutting-edge performance at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, you can expect something refreshing when you live in this community. Neighbors meet up at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club or enjoy one another’s company over dinner in some of South Orange’s upscale, eclectic restaurants.
The town of Ridgewood is a true community with an “urban suburban” vibe that draws residents who truly want to put down roots and make connections with their neighbors. Gracious older homes sit on large, beautifully maintained lots, and you only have to stroll down the streets to feel the subtle aura of the good life. Ridgewood’s downtown stretch features elegant architecture, with some buildings, including the 100-year-old train station, on the National Register of Historic Places. Sophisticated eateries featuring sushi, Middle Eastern and New American cuisine draw locals, who cherish the fact that their neighborhood still maintains its small town vibe. Locals here support their kids, and everyone shows up for local lacrosse games that bring out the best in community spirit. NYC is only about an hour away by train, bus or car, giving Ridgewood residents the best of both worlds.
The homey appeal of this eminently walkable neighborhood extends far beyond its charming downtown, where unique vintage shops sit side by side casual pizza joints, and the word “kindness” pops up when locals are asked to describe their home town. Here, everyone knows what you mean when you say you’ll meet them by “the rock,” the gigantic 570-ton boulder from which this pleasant town takes its name. Glen Rock takes its neighborly attitude so seriously that the Newcomers Club, designed to welcome new residents to the area, had to change its name to the Newcomers and Neighbors club, because people didn’t want to leave the group. People watch out for each other in this tight-knit community, meeting up at high school football games and the local market. Saddle River County Park runs along the eastern edge of the neighborhood, giving locals access to hiking, cycling and tennis, and the Thielke Arboretum brings another touch of natural beauty to this community. Two train stations help facilitate the commute into New York, Secaucus and Hoboken.
The beauty of Verona Park and Verona Lake sits at the heart of this community that rejoices in its small town feel. The serenity of the lake attracts people for boating, swimming and fishing, or just to hike around its perimeter and enjoy the peaceful respite from daily life. The 54-acre park, designed by the legendary Olmstead Brothers, attracts neighbors to free concerts durign the summertime and an annual crafts fair, as well as to the peaceful relaxation of the children’s garden, maintained by local Scout troops. Residents here can choose from beautifully maintained homes on large lots or the convenience of high-rise luxury condos, many with views of NYC, only 20 miles away. Verona has long been considered one of the best places to live in New Jersey, and its residents live up to that label with a deep commitment to community involvement and volunteerism, coming together for everything from book clubs and historic home tours to spelling bees and holiday concerts.
Residents of The Caldwells in West Essex County which includes North Caldwell, West Caldwell and Caldwell – love the small town feel of their neighborhood, and also appreciate their easy proximity to NYC and the Jersey Shore. The Caldwells is a practical community to live in, thanks to its abundant shopping plazas and nearby highway access. West Essex Park takes up much of the western section of The Caldwells, drawing those who love wild nature and want a break from suburban life, and seasonal concerts at Crane Park are a big draw on warm summer evenings. The Caldwells is the kind of community where you know the name of the local business owners and meet up with your neighbors at street fairs and local pizzerias. Tree-lined winding streets welcome residents to walk their dogs, and when the pond at Grover Cleveland Park ices over, locals tie on their skates for some wintertime fun.
The draw of plenty of open space brings people to the down-to-earth community of West Orange. The South Mountain reservation at the southern end of the town with its sweeping views of the NYC skyline, as well as the 408-acre Eagle Rock reservation, with myriad hiking trails leading through dense woods and alongside dancing streams, let West Orange residents enjoy the beauty of nature right next to their homes. Six golf courses, an enormous ice skating arena, a community pool and even the town’s own zoo also bring locals out of their homes to enjoy life in this cozy community. Residents of West Orange bask in the town’s place in history as the home of Thomas Edison, and they all come out each spring for the festive St. Patrick’s Day parade down Main Street. When you climb to the top of one of the hills surrounding West Orange in the autumn and look out at a panorama of green trees turning to fiery orange and red, gasping at the uninterrupted beauty, it becomes very clear why West Orange was recently ranked as one of the top 10 places to live in all of New Jersey.